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If PfG is rejected, Micheál Martin says 'there is no Plan B' while Mary Lou McDonald says 'there will have to be talks'

Members of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party are currently voting on a proposed programme for government.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin leaving Government Buildings on 15 June after government formation talks.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin leaving Government Buildings on 15 June after government formation talks.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Updated Jun 23rd 2020, 10:51 AM

MICHEÁL MARTIN HAS said there in no “magic plan B” if the programme for government is rejected by members of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.

However, he said he believes the document will be passed.

Members of the three parties are currently voting on whether or not to back the programme.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, the Fianna Fáil leader said: “We are in uncharted territory.”

He said “an enormous amount of time has been put into the negotiations to get this programme for government together, and so therefore, there is no magic plan B”.

Martin said it’s “uncertain what will happen if this programme for government is not agreed”, and he did not wish to speculate beyond that.

He said a general election is “always a possibility in a politically unstable situation”, but added: “In the context of Covid, we do not need another general election. And I think the Irish people would be very angry if a general election was visited upon them.”

Tánaiste Simon Coveney yesterday said “we can’t rule out anything” when asked if another general election might be held.

Despite Martin refusing to be drawn on what could happen if the three parties don’t ratify the deal, Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald said this morning that if this happens “there will have to be talks between all parties”. 

“Let’s just remind ourselves, that’s what should have happened and from the get-go,” she told Today with Sarah McInerney.  

Once the people have had their say, and the votes are cast, it’s then incumbent on every party to talk to each other and to establish the best basis for government going forward. And the best basis for the new government, on the back of the last election, is a government that is truly new and transformative and a government of change. 

McDonald said that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael “refused to speak to Sinn Féin from the get go” and “astonishingly wear this as a badge of honour”. 

Compromises have been made

Martin earlier said, given the length of negotiations to date, he’s “not sure” if there is room to renegotiate another deal as compromises have already been made by each party involved in the talks.  

“This has taken quite a long time, and has taken a lot of detailed discussion on all sides and it involves compromises from all parties, so I think we’ll be in a very difficult situation if it emerges that this does not get support from the membership of any one political party,” Martin said. 

He believes the programme for government will be passed and said he is “struck by all of the negative speculation”.

“In my view, we’re getting very positive feedback within the Fianna Fáil party, the first time the history of the party that every member will get a say, and then get a vote,” Martin said.

He refused to be drawn on whether or not he would support Leo Varadkar to stay on as Taoiseach in the short term in order to pass necessary legislation, if the deal is not passed.

McDonald also would not be drawn and such a suggestion but described the idea as “clumsy”.

“I’ve only heard this speculated through media sources, I think that would be a very, very clumsy arrangement to say the least of it,” she said.

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“So certainly I haven’t had any discussions nor have I been approached, by the way, by anybody. Whoever is floating this idea hasn’t done the basic legwork of coming in and certainly speaking to myself or anyone in Sinn Féin.”

With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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